Every Superman Needs A Lois Lane
Every Superman Needs A Lois Lane
'Ben 10' and 'Ben 10 – Alien Force' were created by Man of Action for The Cartoon Network.
The author claims no ownership or rights over the copyrighted and trademarked entities portrayed herein. This is a not-for-profit fan story for free distribution through the world-wide web.
Okay, in response to (and partly in penance for) my humorous Ben 10 story, I've decided to write an infinitely more serious story. This story is written entirely from the primary character's point of view.
As everyone who read my last story will know… I did promise her a focus episode. ;-)
Chapter 1 – Little Girl, Where Have You Been?
My name is Julie Minako Yamamoto. I am a fifteen, going on sixteen-year-old Asian-American living in Bellwood, California. I have black hair, cut short in what my Mom calls a 'pageboy bob' and amber eyes that my boyfriend says actually look gold. I am an above average sophomore student at Aloysius Pine Senior High School and am on my school's tennis squad. My coach tells me that if I keep up my academic scores and efforts, I might even get a tennis scholarship from a college! I suppose that, to the outsider, there is nothing even remotely unusual about me. I appear 'normal' in every way.
They would be wrong.
To understand why they are wrong, I have to tell a story. When my family moved to Bellwood, when I was just five years old, we quickly got to know the town's unwritten rules. In any town there are dos and don'ts – things that you have to do to fit in with society and be accepted by your new neighbours. In Bellwood, or so my parents quickly found out, one of the standing cardinal rules was: 'Watch out for those Tennysons'.
The Tennysons were three generations of the same family living in the town. There was the paternal grandfather, Max, who was apparently ex-USAF and ex-NASA with lots of mysterious 'holes' in his history. He had apparently been widowed when his sons were teenagers but there was some mystery and scandal about what had actually happened to his wife Verdona. Although she had a marker in the Heavenly Rest cemetery, no one could swear to have seen the scattering of her ashes. There were also two sons, Frank and Carl, who were both married with children. Frank had a son in high school and a little girl of about my age, named Gwen. Carl had only a son of about my age, named Ben. The weird thing was that Ben and Gwen had the same birthday. There was also some mystery and scandal about that fact, which I have never been able to understand. The most benign rumour is that they are fraternal twins who were separated at birth for some reason.
The Tennysons all lived perfectly normal lives, as far as anyone could tell for certain. However, there was a certain degree of mistrust directed towards them. They were 'weird'. They had strange, out-of-town friends, tended to disappear for long, irregular periods and tended to suffer strange injuries for no reason that ever quite seemed to make sense. The younger kids were also considered 'not right' either. They were both were considered abnormal by most of the parents who spoke to my mom. The little girl, Gwen, seemed to have a freaky level of intelligence for a five-year-old and the little boy, Ben, was considered a troublemaker who had fits of 'picking on the nicer children.'
Having been home-schooled by my mom until I completed fourth grade, my first encounter with Ben and Gwen Tennyson came when I started Junior High School. Having been repeatedly warned, just like every other kid, to 'watch out for those Tennysons', I naturally avoided them both.
Gwen stood out in any crowd. She had the brightest fire-red hair of any kid at the school. Both her and Ben also had the most startling green eyes too. She was also quickly marked out by her near-supernatural intelligence. She was top of the class in all of the academic subjects. Ben was a purely average student, when he could be bothered to do the work. Some would have called him a slacker, but it was clear that he just wasn't interested in a lot of the assignments. When he did put forth effort, he was an equal to Gwen, especially when it required some prodigious act of imagination.
Ben continued to have a reputation as a troublemaker, which I couldn't understand. Certainly, I had never met anyone who could honestly say that they had been picked on by him or say that they knew anyone who could say so either. If anything, Ben seemed to be the target rather than the instigator of trouble. This was especially the case in Gym Class. There were two kids, Cash and JT, who always targeted Ben for foul balls, heavy tackles and general rough-housing. Naturally, as he was an unpopular kid from an unpopular family, no one in authority cared to do anything about it. Gwen, although less subject to physical assault, was also subject to bullying of the social exclusion kind. As a 'Jap' (and Junior High was my first encounter with hate speech directed at my ethnicity), I can tell you that being excluded is as painful as any physical blow.
I came to learn that Ben and Gwen's 'target' status had begun in Elementary School. As being 'those Tennyson kids', they were automatically the 'different' kids whom it was implied it was okay to bully. As their families were always looked upon with suspicion, I suspect that the teachers thought that bullying would encourage them to be less 'different' (a sin worse than any other in Bellwood, it seems).
When I told my parents about how unfairly Ben and Gwen were being treated, I was more than a little surprised to be told to keep my distance from the Tennyson kids and not to pay attention to the injustices that was meted out to them. "It's just the way things are," Dad told me. "Some people are just naturally the targets. There is nothing that the likes of us can do about it and trying to will just get you dragged down with them."
Thus it was that I learnt my first important lesson in the inherit injustices of life. A little girl of nine, going on ten years old, I swore that, if I ever got the power, I would ensure that it wouldn't be 'just the way things are' for me.
I really couldn't have known what that oath would mean for me.
Up until the beginning of the spring semester, Ben Tennyson and Gwen Tennyson had just been passing figures in the corridors or yard or an occasional voice in class. That all changed when Cash and JT decided to branch out their bullying trade to other 'different' kids. Being from an ethnic minority, I was, of course, an early target.
I was just walking down the road to the school (I lived too close to the campus to make taking the bus worthwhile) when a voice stopped me. "Hey! Slant-eyes!"
I winced. You wouldn't have thought that the Second World War had been over for more than half a century based on how my family was often treated. It wouldn't be until I was fourteen, and an adult by traditional Japanese standards, that I would be told that I didn't just share a name with the brilliant naval strategist who masterminded Pearl Harbour and nearly swept the US Navy from the Pacific Ocean in 1941. However, that is another story.
I turned around and saw Cash, a tanned, above-average height and thinner-than-average boy, and JT, a portly ginger-haired boy with thick-lens spectacles, smirking at me in a way that made me feel afraid. "What is it Cash?"
"Seems to me that you Japs must be pretty rich, what with all the cool stuff you wear," Cash remarked. I shrugged. My dad worked for a company in Silicon Valley and was a fairly senior engineer. My mother was a freelance fashion journalist. Overall, we were 'comfortably well off' but not rich by any standards. However, having a fashion professional as one's mother ensures that one is always wearing the best (or at least a fair facsimile of such). "If you're so rich, then I think it's time you shared the wealth around!"
"W… What are you talking about?"
"Your lunch money," Cash said. "Now."
"No! It's mine!"
Cash's smirk got a little bit more poisonous.
"Seems to me that Slant-eyes needs to be reminded who won the war!" JT remarked with an evil chuckle. With a speed that belied his size, the boy jumped forward and grabbed the sleeve of my pink hoodie. "Gimmie your bag!" he yelled in malicious triumph.
"No! Get off of me!" I lashed out more instinctively than with any concrete tactic in mind. My flailing hand caught JT's glasses and sent them clattering to the ground.
"You little bitch!" JT's backhanded slap caught me on the side of the face and made the world explode into pain. I staggered and nearly fell, not even able to see clearly thanks to the tears suddenly filling my eyes.
As I reeled back, Cash circled behind me and grabbed me from behind, pinning my arms behind my back. "I got her man!"
JT resettled his glasses on his face and, with an ugly expression on his face, lunged forwards again. The portly boy grabbed my 'Hello Kitty' shoulder bag and yanked on it, hard, ignoring the fact that its strap was around my shoulder and would cut into my neck. I screamed in pain as JT hauled on my bag as hard as he could but still heard the 'rip' as it tore open, spilling the contents onto the sidewalk. Far beyond panic, I kicked backward and caught Cash with the heel of my sneaker; I'm not sure exactly where, probably his shins but it was enough to make him cry out in pain. "OW! Little ho!" He shoved me away and I was sent sprawling to the ground. Before I could get my bearings, he had grabbed me by the collar and yanked me back to my feet, tearing my hoodie in the process. "I was going to just take your money you little bitch," he hissed. "Now, I've got to teach you to respect your betters too!" He cocked his fist and I closed my eyes, waiting for the blow to strike my face…
"Leave her alone!" Suddenly, Cash wasn't holding onto me anymore and I fell onto my backside.
I opened my eyes and, at first, didn't recognise the brown-haired boy with a black-and-white loose tee-shirt and dark cargo pants who had just body-checked Cash off of me. It wasn't until JT growled "You should have kept your nose out of this, Tennyson!" that I realised that my would-be saviour was Ben Tennyson!
The despised 'troublemaker' laughed derisively. "Since when have I been that smart?" he snarked fearlessly. The two bullies looked at each other and nodded grimly. Cash stood up and he and JT began circling Ben, trying to surround him. "Get out of here, kiddo," Ben said, his tone belying the worry now marking his face as he looked from Cash and JT and back, assessing their locations and movements. "I can handle these twerps!"
Brave words, but Ben was smaller than both bullies and was outnumbered. He got in a few good blows and was able to put his greater agility to good use. However, Cash tripped him as he tried to dodge in between them and, as soon as the boy was on the ground, Cash and JT began to treat him like a soccer ball. Ben curled up into a ball, trying to cover his head but the kicks were not stopping any time soon and I knew he would be seriously hurt.
Ask my dad and he will tell you that I am probably not very good at thinking things through. I am not naturally impulsive, but my good nature often gets the better of me. This was one such occasion. I staggered to my feet and, without any obvious plan in mind, leapt onto Cash's back, wrapping my arms around the tall boy's throat in a stranglehold.
Cash made a sound of panic and staggered back, clawing at my arms. JT forgot about Ben for a moment and stepped towards me. Ben, who had been clearly waiting for an opening, suddenly unfolded like a flower and drove both his feet into the ginger boy's fat belly. JT made a noise like a balloon deflating and folded double.
Cash meanwhile had finally untangled me from around his neck and dragged me around in front of him. The punch to my gut was the single most painful experience I had to date, even more painful than when my mom spanked me for trying to make cupcakes without her assistance (seven year old + electric mixer = bad times). I folded double and fell to my knees. However, I saw Cash's booted foot swing back for a kick at my head. I closed my eyes in anticipation when suddenly, Cash was airborne; Ben had body-checked him again, sending him tumbling over the low front fence of a nearby house lot. I barely had enough time to gather my wits when, suddenly, a weight was pressing me down to the sidewalk, covering me and partly surrounding me. "Don't move," Ben whispered in my ear. "Stay under me in case they want more!"
However, it was over. "Let's go man! Let's split!" I heard JT shout. I looked up to see the two bullies fleeing down the street, half carrying each other.
"I'll get you for this Tennyson! You'll pay for this!" Cash yelled over his shoulder.
"Ah, get in line, blowhard!" Ben yelled back. The weight on my back shifted as he stood up.
I rolled over and looked up into my saviour's oh-so-green eyes. Ben Tennyson looked down at me with some concern, noting my bruised throat from where JT yanked on my bag and my ripped hoodie. There was a bruise starting under his left eye and his shirt was askew. He wiped a trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth and then he suddenly smiled and the whole world seemed to grow brighter and easier.
A hand was offered to help me stand and I heard him ask: "Are you okay?"
And with that, a little girl had fallen in love.
Cash and JT were suspended for two weeks, lost all academic credits for the semester and were forced to apologise to me before the entire school by the Principal. No apology was offered to Ben and, or so the school rumour mill said, only my dad's threat to support the Tennysons' complaint to the County School Board stopped him from being suspended too, for fighting.
I thus learned that 'everyone' can be wrong. Just because 'everyone' says that someone is bad news, doesn't make it so. Just because someone is 'different' doesn't stop them from being kind, noble and heroic. I also learnt that a 'troublemaker' can just as easily be someone who does not stand by and let injustice stand.
That day, I swore that I would find out who these Tennysons were and why they were so different.
To be continued…